Vegan baking: Sourdough Bread

On Mon, 12 June, 2017 - 16:41
Momtaz's picture

Written by Catherine Ward from the Norwich Sangha who is currently volunteering for 6 months at Taraloka:

Bread making is steeped in history with Sourdough being one of the earliest forms of bread, and very central to village and community life for our ancestors. For Taraloka also, Sourdough is one of the main staples, and its been one of my pleasures as a volunteer to bake bread for the community.

With the theme of BAM being ‘connecting for change’ I have been reflecting on food as spiritual practice. I have been infusing the process of baking Sourdough into my daily life here. I begin in the evening, by taking some of the bread ‘starter’ and mixing with flour and water to leave to ferment overnight. We call our ‘starter’ Pedro because Maitridevi inherited him from Akasavana Retreat Centre in Spain. The ‘starter’ is yeast free and made from flour and water that slowly ferments creating a ‘wild or natural yeast’ that makes the bread rise.

In the morning I do the next 2 stages before and after meditation, and then coming back in the evening to bake so there is bread for breakfast the next morning. Food is one of my ways of showing care and love for people and I bear this in mind when preparing the bread. Doing a stage of bread making before and after meditation helps to channel the energy of care and love that I want to infuse into the bread because I really value the shared experience of eating together as part of community life.

Trish, our Housekeeper and Bookshop Manager had the brilliant idea of having a Sourdough stall at our recent Open Afternoon. Together we created a Sourdough recipe leaflet and bread ‘starters’ in recycled jam jars for visitors to take away and bake their own bread at home. I managed the stall, and it was great to get visitors excited about baking their own Sourdough, and sharing with them some aspects of community life, the community that holds and supports the retreat centre. I enjoyed talking to our visitors about the environmental and health benefits of vegan baking, which also has minimal impact on animal life. Sourdough is easier to digest because of the slow fermentation process and its sugar free, compared to a couple of slices of shop bought bread that has about a teaspoon of sugar!

When buying food Taraloka aims to buy fair trade, local and organic produce where possible. Over the last 7 years Taraloka has made a number of changes from installing solar panels and a wood pellet boiler to switching to an eco-electricity provider. As a result Taraloka’s Carbon Emissions have dropped by 87%. But it is also the small things that can have a big impact. Baking our Bread rather than buying reduces our resources and food miles to have less impact on the environment.

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Liz Ashley's picture

Ooh, I am so liking what you are doing at Taraloka! Right up my street. Elderflower wine, sourdough - both so healthy and delicious! And  saving water in the shower … I like to wash my hair with a jug of water and a pinch of bicarbonate of soda; saves water and polluting chemicals …